Tag Archives: blogging

What I Learned in My First Month Blogging

I started this blog because I had a deep desire to do something creative. And since I always loved writing, I figured this would be the best option.

But, the problem was that I started as a complete beginner. I knew nothing!

I spent my first few days of blogging reading a bunch of articles on how to blog.

After about a week of reading, I began to realize that this was going to be harder than it looks.

There was so much to learn!

And I clearly didn’t have a plan.

So, I figure I could give you a run down of the things I learned in my first month plus some resources I currently use.

I broke it down into 3 sections

  • The Basics
  • The Semi Advanced
  • The Weird Fun Stuff

The Basics


My first couple of blog posts looked like a scribbling that a proud 5 year-old child handed to his or her parents. You knew something was there, but you weren’t quite sure what it was.

I quickly learned that I needed a clear topic and an outline. Then, all I needed to do was color (write) in the different parts of my blog post. This made writing a blog post much easier.

Plus, it made them much easier to read.

(The above pic is suppose to be a cat!)

But, then I ran into my next problem. I wasn’t sure how long my blog posts should be. Should I write 1000 words? 2000? 250?

Since I tend to over-analyze everything, I decided to dive into a bunch of research on this topic.

The best answer I got was from Marlene van de Rakt at Yoast. She suggests that you have a higher chance of ranking in Google if your posts are 1000 words or more.

Her reason for this is clear. She says “– in lengthy text, Google just has more clues to determine what your text is about“. So, I need to give Google as many clues as I can to get the highest ranking possible.

At this point I began to think that maybe I had a solid footing. That is, until a new bandwagon rolled into town.

It was a shiny glitter photo bandwagon.

This photo bandwagon brought with it new stats and a scary new world. I couldn’t help but to run over to the wagon to see what new things lay in store for me.

I quickly found out that photos were important. In fact, according to Jeff Bullas “Articles with images get 94% more total views“. But, there was a problem.

I couldn’t just go out and snatch up any photos I wanted to use on my blog. There was this thing called copyright law that protected photos.

What makes this even harder is that some photos may be free to use, but you aren’t allowed to modify them. Or, maybe there is a restriction that prevents you from using the photo commercially.

I learned that I need to be very careful before using a photo. I needed to read and reread all of the terms before using one. But, to be safe, it would be best if I just use photos that I create.

Well, that covers the basics. Now, for the semi advanced stuff…

The Semi Advanced


I can’t begin to tell you how many sleepless nights I have had due to SEO. Every time I watch a YouTube video on this subject, I have flashbacks to my Economics class in college.

I would sit there staring at my teacher, knowing that what he said was important, but my brain just couldn’t process all of the information being thrown at it.

So, first things first. I learned that SEO is important. Especially if you want to be a professional. And there is a ton of resources online. But, it all comes down to a couple of key points. The points are:

  • Select a keyword
  • Check search volume of keyword
  • Study competition for keyword
  • Write a high quality awesome blog post around a keyword
  • Optimize the blog post
  • Market the blog post like it’s the best thing ever written

While this may sound simple. It’s not!

A good free resource that I found to be helpful is the Google Keyword Planner. It helps me find keywords and it gives me an idea of search volume.

Moz Open Site Explorer is also a great resource I found where I can compare my blog against the competition. They also have some great information on keyword research.

But, I can’t go crazy searching keywords all day on Moz. They only have a limited amount of free searches I can do. So, I try to do my searches strategically to get the best results.

I have found that optimizing my blog post is fairly easy. I just follow the tips that Marlene van de Rant suggests to do in her article here .

But, then I ran across this crazy statistic. According to Mediakix, “there are more than 440 million blogs in the world“.

How am I going to stand out with a number that big? My blog is so puny and small. My only chance to stand out is to get a niche, and fast!

At least if I select a niche, I narrow down who my competition is. I am no longer competing against every blogger in the world!

Plus if I have a niche, it would be easier to monetize later if I decide too. I would at least have a topic to write an e-book about. Further, the people who follow my blog will already be interested in the topics I write about.

But, then I noticed something that all of the cool bloggers were doing. They were using infographics. And I want to be cool. So, I found this free App called Canva where I can make an infographic. Here is one I created for this post.

As you can see, I’m still in the learning process.

But, before I can publish anything I need to run my content through a plagiarism detector. Everything that I write is original, but I like to be safe.

I actually tested out a number of plagiarism tools, but only one passed every test I threw at it. I currently use PlagScan. They do have a limited free trial (a few credits) but the costs is fairly reasonable in my opinion.

One final thought I should include is social media. I have unsuccessfully added social media into my blog marketing. The reason for this is that I’m focusing on writing my content right now.

Trying to learn a social media platform would be too much for me right now. But, I do visit other blogs and leave comments. I have found that this helps me connect with other bloggers who will often check out my blog.

Plus, if you leave a comment or question on websites, it will sometimes count as a backlink back to your blog.

I wouldn’t go crazy doing this, but grabbing a few backlinks couldn’t hurt.

If you aren’t sure where to check to see if you have any backlinks, the place I check mine is the Google Webmasters tool. It’s free to use and you can see find some interesting stuff pertaining to your blog there.

Now for the weird fun stuff…

The Weird Fun Stuff


The fact is that no matter how great or original my idea seems, it probably has already been written about at least 17 times. This hit me hard in the beginning.

I kept thinking that my ideas were the greatest ever!

That is, until I searched my idea on Google and found that it has been written 17 times before (one about 10 years ago).

Which brings me to another thought about my “great ideas”. Why do I always have my greatest ideas when there is no paper around?

It never fails. Everytime I come up with an idea, finding a piece of paper to write it down on is the most difficult thing I have ever encountered.

And it doesn’t matter how many times you proofread your post. As soon as you hit publish, grammar and spelling errors will magically start to appear throughout your post.

Add to this, your family and friends will not be excited as you are about every post that you write. In fact, they may not be excited at all. So, it becomes increasing difficult to find someone to proofread your blog post.

But, I have learned one trick that makes me sound smarter. It’s called a thesaurus. The only problem is you can use it so much that you end up with the original words that you started with!

Plus, you will inevitably come to a point where you have to trash a 2000 word post because it makes no sense. This hurts! So much work and it was all for nothing.

But, I will close this post with one final thought. While creating a blog from scratch is a lot of work, it comes with a sense of satisfaction. You created something from nothing.

You not only write content and find pictures. But, you have to go out and tell the world about your post and hope they come check it out.

While the work never seems to end, I think it’s something that is fun and I plan to continue doing it for a while.

Thanks for reading…

You can check out my first blog post “Confessions of a First Time Blogger” here if you want to see how far I have come.

Or, you can check out my most popular post “Why Your Blog Needs a Small Following” here.

Failures; Hardships; and Setbacks in Blogging and in Life

Have you ever reached that point where you feel like the world has given up on you? You keep striving to do your best, but the world never seems to take notice.

I have been there (many times!).

It’s not fun.

Whether you are short on paying bills or you just can’t write another word because you brain is overloaded with fear and doubt, the truth is…

YOU are good enough.

Now, I know you may read that and be skeptical. I don’t even know you.

How could I know that you are good enough?

I know because you are reading this. If you are reading this, I know you are looking for answers.

You are trying…

Plus, you probably got a little fire left to push through this hard time. And, that’s the key to overcoming any setback or hard time.

The setback is rarely the thing that holds you back.

It’s how you react to it.

But, I’m tired and it seems impossible”

Well, I got good news!

You can accomplish your dream.

And you don’t even need an expert to tell you how.

This seems to be something a lot of people miss. They think they need an expert to teach them the way to do something.

While the experts can give you great examples on what they did. They are not you.

You have to put in the work to see what works for you!

And guess what?

That means you are going to have setback and failures.

And that’s ok.

Be ok with that.

If you want to write a super awesome blog post, then figure it out. Go through the 100 failures it takes to get it right.

No expert will ever be able to tell you exactly what to do. You have to learn what to do with your audience in your situation.

If you want to monetize your blog, don’t look at others with envy. Find out what you can do today to start moving in that direction.

You will probably screw up a few times.

And that’s ok.

How many times are you going to let the world beat you?

Honestly, how many times are you going to give up?

This is not about pride. This is about you achieving what you want.

You are going to have to dig down deep to find the strength to push through.

Now, I could provide you with thousands of success stories and give you countless examples of the hardships that people have faced.

But, you don’t need that.

You just need someone like me to tell you that your dream is possible.

Maybe you fail 1000 more times.

It’s ok.

Keep pushing.

Your dream, whatever it is, can be achieved if you don’t give up.

“What happens if I never succeed?”

The dream, whatever it is, is not the yardstick by which you should measure your success.

You should measure your success by your movement toward your dream.

Quit thinking that every time you have a setback that you have failed.

With every setback, you have moved one step closer to the things you want.

Isn’t this what you want?

To know you are moving toward your success?

Over night success would be wonderful, but winning a fight of years of struggle is much more meaningful.

Keep inching toward it.

You have that strength and courage. You always have. It’s just hard to see it when you are surrounded by your let-down after let-down.

You have come so far in life, wherever you are.

You have learned so much.

Just think about how much further you can go, if you keep pushing forward.

One day I hope to see you living out your dream. But, if you aren’t, I fully expect to see you pushing toward it.

Thanks for reading and go get that dream of yours!

Tips on Taking Your Next Blog Post to New Heights

Writing a post for a blog can be a lot of work. But, the fact is…YOU LOVE IT! In fact, you keep coming back time and again to try to craft that perfect masterpiece.

And guess what?

It is possible…

“Is it hard?”

You bet it’s hard. It’s like staring at a wall trying to figure out what the meaning of life is. It’s tough!

But, before we get sucked into a bunch of thoughts on the meaning of life. We are here to do one task.

Learn how to write a post that you can be proud to show your family, friends, or even that strict teacher who gave you a “C” on that writing exam.

While there is a bunch of info online about writing. I wanted to take a look at some things that aren’t widely talked about. Things that may be preventing you from writing your masterpiece.

But first, let’s take a look at some basics. And then we will jump into some of the deeper aspects.

Basics

Time to Learn

Knowledge Gap


Writing about a topic can seem daunting if you don’t have any knowledge on the subject. But, luckily for you there is a ton (a ton!) of resources. Just be sure to cite any sources you use. A few of them include

  • Search Engines (easy to use)
  • Books (a little harder)
  • Newspapers and magazines (I find information here randomly)
  • Wikipedia (easy, but not always the most credible)

There are numerous more resources I could list here, but you get the idea. The fact is that you have to go out and find the information.

I will honest, it sucks. It’s hard reading through material that you aren’t interested in. But, you are trying to find that golden nugget you need to create your masterpiece. It’s time well spent. Otherwise it’s just a good post. We are going for better than good.

Creating an Outline

Outline or Structure


Most of us learned how to create an outline in school. While I personally find them helpful, I have been known to deviate from my outline from time to time.

I will sometimes stray so far from my topic that I write an entire post within a post. Don’t do this! Trust me, it hurts having to go back and delete two hours of work about why I like birds with small wings. Stick to the outline.

It will save you pain unless you enjoy wasting your time or have nothing better to do. Then, by all means, type away.

Topics

A Good Topic


Finding a good topic that people want to read about is important. Don’t do what I did recently. I wrote a post about a cat I once had. It was a nice little post. The problem? No one read it. It got 2 views and I promptly deleted the post.

While you may be able to write an awesome cat post, people don’t come to my blog to read about my cat.

Unless of course you do? In that case, I could probably knock out a 5,000 word essay on cat fur. Interested? I didn’t think so. Find topics your audience wants to read about.

Everybody is different and you have your own specialty. You can still experiment writing about different things, but don’t get discouraged if no one reads it.

I inserted a few cat photos below as a visual reminder to myself to stay away from cat content.

Now that I got a few basics out of the way, we can jump into the deeper section of the blog writing pool. Hope you are ready!

Some Deeper Thoughts on Writing

Not the Time to Sleep

Motivation


Let’s face it. You may not want to put time and energy into a post that few people are going to read. That’s just the way it is. But, maybe…just maybe you need to put the energy into your post to get more readers.

I will admit it’s hard. I struggle myself. The two people who read my cat post seen what happens when I get lazy. It doesn’t work. I wish it did!

But, if you put in the work, people will notice. I love it when I come across a good post unexpectedly. I always start looking for the “like” button. And if the posts is really good, I will follow them. That’s how it works. Amaze people with content and they come back.

I’m Not Perfect

Perfection


You may think you will never be able to create your masterpiece because you believe you are incapable of producing perfection. Guess what? None of us can.

This post is littered with places that I could edit, fine tune, and make better. But, in the end, I took a shot at producing something worth reading.

I remember a couple of weeks ago when I published “Why Your Blog Needs a Small Following“. I thought I had achieved near perfection. I was elated. That was until I hit the publish button. I immediately started noticing misspelled words and incomplete sentences.

I rushed back through trying to correct all the mistakes. It’s funny how our minds can miss so many mistakes. I should do a post on that one day.

Creating Value

Creating Value When You Are Not An Expert


I love talking about value! It’s what your readers want. But, how can you know what is valuable info for your readers? You aren’t an expert.

You may even feel unqualified.

All you really need are some good ideas.

One thing I personally do is thought experiments. What I mean is I look at things from all angles.

Let’s say I wanted to write a post about blog growth. I wouldn’t just start writing about how to grow a blog.

I would probably spend some time trying to figure out how people view their growth on their blog. For example, I may open my post like this:

Let’s say you have 10,000 followers and I have 10.

Who is growing faster?

Hmmm…

You can’t tell!

Why is this?

This is how you can add value. Don’t tell them facts you find online. Think about what they are missing. Find the answers to the hard questions.

This again requires that you spend time and energy trying to find answers (the golden nuggets). You have to do this while trying to avoid falling down countless rabbit holes. But, one trick I learned is to use the simple question “WHY?”

Why should I write this post?

Why should my followers read it?

Why is this important?

Why..

Etc.

This always helps me find out where I am trying to go. It’s not a perfect solution, but I think that’s it helpful. I use it to get started.

The important thing to remember is that you are trying to find answers to some questions. You don’t need to become an expert. Narrow your focus down to a single thought and then expand out.

Look for something that is rarely discussed and tell the world your thoughts on it.

You are Awesome

Comparing Yourself to Others


I know, I know. We all do it. We think if only we were as good as them. They create content that flows so seamless.

I’m not good enough…

This kind of thinking never helps.

One trick I use is I compare myself to myself. For example

“Am I better than I was last week?”

If so, then I know I’m heading in the right direction. It’s hard to do when you come across some of these awesome posts. I read one the other day that made me cry.

I thought “Wow” this guy is good. But, I can’t let that stop me from trying. I use it as motivation to keep trying to improve and become better.

Wrapping it Up

Final Thoughts


Before you run off to create your masterpiece, I would like to take a second to follow-up on some interactions I have had recently with fellow bloggers.

I sometimes hear people say they are not good writers or that they don’t know to write.

Do not overthink writing your post!

Don’t try to write an academic article about butterflies unless that is your specialty. Instead, take your own personal view on butterflies and just write like you are talking to a friend.

People can relate to you if you are writing in your nature voice.

I’m sure you talk to people everyday in life?

Just be yourself. I’m writing naturally right now. You don’t see any big-hard-to-pronounce words, do you? And I still have your interest.

If I want to talk about tomatoes, I’m not going to try to sound like a botanist. I would probably just start writing about how I like ketchup, and if ketchup taste like tomatoes.

Just be natural.

That’s all I have for now.

Thanks for your time. I made every attempt not to waste a second of it. Good luck…